September 13, 2017

Gardening. To get rid of rhinoceros’ beetle (kumbang badak) use the chemical insecticide Sevin (Rp8000 per pack) or pour tobacco juice into the top of the brownish infestation of the palm. *Baking soda removes the slickness left in vases of cut flowers. *Dried flowers, bouquets, reeds and grasses sprouting out of ceramic vessels are very striking, low maintenance and maintain their beauty for years. Create decorative plants by drying upside down along a string in a dry place with good ventilation.


Health alerts. Don’t accept a reused plastic bag to carry ready-to-eat food because it may have been used to carry takeaways, pesticides, chemicals, heavy metal wastes, medical waste or animal and human wastes. *Balinese eat plain soft-boiled rice porridge (bubur) to remedy diarrhea. *JADEC air safety survey of 407 airlines in the world places 9 out of 10 of the worst ranking in Indonesia. *A thin slice of bawang merah (red onion) placed on a mosquito bite quickly eliminates itching. *Pineapple aids digestion, reduces fevers and has a laxative effect. *According to a Stanford University research study, Indonesia came in last among 46 countries for the number of walking steps its citizens take, averaging only 3,513 per day (in comparison to residents of Hong Kong with 6,880). *Hydrocortisone is a hyper bargain on Bali at Rp6500 for a small 5 gr tube (2.5% strength).


Tipping pointers. Restaurants and bars will tell you that it’s a government rule that guests must pay a 5% to 10% service charge on food and drink, even on take-out food! This on top of the government tax of 10% to 20%. But there is no such regulation that states that it is compulsory for a customer to pay a service charge and how much the charge should be. There is no uniformity or any standard for service charges in Indonesia. One regulation issued by the Manpower Ministry, (Reg. No. PER02/MEN/1999) only stipulates that owners of hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities must give service charge earnings to their employees after subtracting no more than 10% “for employee training and improving the quality of the service.” In truth, giving or not giving a tip is up to you. Some restaurants automatically include a 5-10% service charge to their bill. If a fancy restaurant doesn’t levy any service charge, tip 10% of the total bill if the service has been good. Smaller restaurants and warung don’t levy any service charge and would never pay it to the government if they did. Karaoke venues tell its customers that they should give a Rp500,000 tip for every six-hour sessions. Massage and spa parlors often have a fixed tip.


 Techie corner. With 45 million users in Indonesia, the largest in the Asia-Pacific region, the photo sharing social media platform Instagram is a lucrative platform to sell your product. *Password manager LastPass works with every browser and most mobile phones and its interface is relatively simple. *Wordless videos on the ‘Primitive Technology’ YouTube channel demonstrate how to build a tile-roofed hut, kiln, spear thrower, etc. *VPN service is reliable, high-speed and anonymous with packages starting at $3.33/mo. *Internet cafes and co-working hubs that boast “the fastest internet” just parrot their provider’s claims. Advertised speed means little when it comes to how an internet provider slices bandwidth. There is so much variance in quality, even from the same provider.


Moneywise. *Fraser Institute, a Canadian research organization, ranked Indonesia the 99th most difficult country to invest in out of 104 countries in 2016 because of its myriad rules and regulations. *Bali products that are the most sought after in Java and other areas of Indonesia: Kopi Bali Rp60,000/kg; ketan riceRp15,000/kg; coconut oil (minyak kelapa) Rp20,000/600 ml; Sarung Bali beachware (Rp70,000); kamben perempuan (women’s skirt) Rp50,00; Mukenah (Islamic woman’s prayer garment) Rp100,000 to Rp175,000. *If you want to know if you can trust lending someone money, lend him money. *Every Saturday night at 8 pm, Ayodya Resort Bali (tel. 0361-771-102) presents for free outstanding classic motion pictures on its “Movie Night;” food and drinks service available. *Withdraw only from ATM machines that dispense Rp100,000 notes (not Rp50,000 notes) to reach your daily maximum withdrawal amount because it saves on overseas bank charges. *Uang komisi or uang dengar means money given to someone because of what he knows about a certain transaction, i.e. finder’s fee. *Membership of Ace Hardware (Rp100,000/year; renewals Rp50,000/year) gets you points for every purchase of Rp100,000 or over, promo offers all year long at various merchants and hotels, free shipping and birthday gifts.


Airline baggage dos and don’ts. Long distance carriers charge less than regional carriers for extra checked in bags. For example, Saudi allows two free 23 kg checked bags and China Airlines allows two free 32 kg bags whereas Air Asia charges US$60 for two 20 kg checked bags ($25 for the first bag; $37 for the second). *It costs less if you check your baggage online before your Air Asia flight. *Air Asia is very fussy about carry-ons, allowing only a combined weight of 7 kg for all your carry-ons. Expect that they will ask you to actually weigh what you are carrying onboard the aircraft. *Arrive at least two hours before your flight or you will be charged the cost of a new flight if you miss your flight. *Substantially more bulk and weight can be packed in a large strong cardboard box. Because the box weighs just a few pounds and a heavy suitcase can weigh up to 15 pounds, you gain at least 12 pounds using the box. It’s not allowed to use rope to tie the box or plastic to cover the box. You must still adhere to the size limit of the length, width and depth (no more than 62” inches total).


Education news. Something needs to be done about the literacy of future generations of Indonesian children. A 2016 study by Central Connecticut State University placed Indonesia as the 60th most literate nation out of 61 nations, above only Botswana. The Indonesian children’s magazine Bobo online site ( entertains and educates with fiction, fairytales, crafts, science, history, culture, practical advice for elementary school children. *BKPA (Society for the Advancement of Children’s Literature) has published a list of children’s books that applaud Indonesia’s multiculturalism. *LINE Academy ( is a digital tutoring and national exam and university entrance test preparation service for Indonesian students.


Free postal book delivery.  Pos Indonesia will send a package of books up to 10 kg for free on the 17th of each month from 11 regional offices across Indonesia. This is an incredible deal for sending books to distant places like Papua, Sulawesi and eastern Indonesia. Normally, to send books from Denpasar to Jayapura in Papua costs at least Rp83,000 per kilo and maybe even more, depending on from where and to where it is sent as well as the size of the package (check regular shipping rates at The catch is that the 17th of each month must all fall on a work day. In August it fell on Indonesia’s Independence Day and in July the 17th fell on a Sunday.


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Copyright © 2017 Bill Dalton

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